Media Minimize Mexico’s Role in Spread of Debilitating Virus Hitting U.S.
Lost in much of the media coverage of new domestic cases of chikungunya, a painful and sometimes debilitating mosquito-borne virus, is that Mexico has been experiencing an alarming rise in infections that could potentially spread across the porous border. And there is already evidence of at least one case arriving from Mexico.
In May, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention added Mexico to the “Watch Level 1” category for the disease. Last week, the CDC updated their “Level 1” warning, advising travelers to Mexico to “protect themselves from chikungunya by preventing mosquito bites.”
Local transmission began in Mexico in October 2014, with 155 cases confirmed before the end of the year. The numbers skyrocketed this year, with 9,952 cases reported in Mexico as of November 8.
According to CDC data, the U.S. this year has seen 571 chikungunya cases in 42 states as of November 17, with all reported cases coming from “travelers returning from affected areas.”
There is immediate cause for concern about the spread of the disease domestically, due to the increased detection of yellow fever mosquitoes–also known by their scientific name, Aedes aegypti–in California over the past year. The aggressive mosquito is one of the insects capable of transmitting chikungunya, as well as the deadly dengue hemorrhagic fever and other serious diseases.